Are You In Possession Of Stolen Goods? How To Identify Stolen Items And What To Do

It is unlikely that an upstanding citizen would intentionally be in the custody of stolen items. After all, being in possession of stolen goods could cause you to be convicted of a misdemeanor or felony. This applies even if you weren't the one who stole the property. Any suspicious items should be checked out before you pay for them or bring them into your possession:

What is Considered Stolen Goods?

Property that is acquired through means of theft, larceny, or robbery constitutes stolen goods. These items remain "stolen" even when passed on to others.

How Can You Acquire Stolen Goods?

You may be wondering how you could possibly come to have possession of stolen goods. Some ways to unknowingly acquire stolen property are to consider how you came into possession of the item:

  • Purchasing something at a yard sale
  • Buying something from an ad in a local sale paper
  • Purchasing something advertised online
  • Buying something from someone selling out of their vehicle on a street corner
  • Receiving a stolen item as a gift

As you can see, any time you purchase something from an unknown person, there is a risk involved. They may even give you the papers that came with the item when it was originally purchased. This would seem to be a good sign, but not always. The person who stole the item may have very well taken the paperwork too. In fact, they would be wise to do so if they planned to sell to an innocent party.

Items That Are Commonly Sold Illegally

If you plan to buy something from someone you don't know, you may want to be especially aware of the following items:

  • Computers and tablets
  • Televisions
  • Stereos or entertainment systems
  • Gaming consoles
  • Video games
  • Personal music devices
  • Cameras and camera equipment
  • Jewelry
  • Tools
  • Bicycles
  • Cars and trucks
  • Car parts
  • Sporting goods

Unfortunately, just about anything that is stolen has the potential to be sold to an unsuspecting buyer.

Things to Watch For

It may be very tempting to buy that nearly new vehicle for dirt cheap, or a big screen television for less than half the retail price. However, that is exactly what a thief would try and do; sell you the stolen goods for a price that is too good to be true. 

If you are planning on buying a car from an independent party, get the VIN and check it out. Go to a website that does VIN verifications such as Carfax. Once you know the VIN is the correct one for that vehicle, you can check the National Insurance Crime Bureau website. This will tell you if the vehicle has been reported as stolen and hasn't been recovered.

For electronics and other items that have serial numbers, make sure you can read the number clearly. Do not buy anything with the serial number removed, or where it's been attempted to be concealed.  

You can always contact the local authorities if you suspect something you see for sale may have been stolen. For your sake, if you feel something is suspicious, you are probably best off not buying it.

Should something happen, and you find you are in possession of stolen goods, call a criminal defense attorney immediately. Your lawyer will have to prove that you were unaware that the property was stolen. Don't try to represent yourself in a matter this serious. To learn more, contact a company like Kalasnik Law Office.